Six seasons in and most shows, particularly those focused on rapid-fire pop-culture comedy and satire, would be losing steam and retreading ad nauseam the formulas that led them to initial success. Thankfully, Robot Chicken is not “most shows” and the sixth season may be the freshest yet. An infusion of new writing staff (including the magnificent Rachel Bloom and Jessic Gao) and six years of increasing technical expertise culminate in the best-looking and most well-realized season to date.
This season also draws a wealth of guest stars (see full list below), all of whom are put to incredible use. It’s one thing to use big names to draw attention to and beef up your show’s profile, it’s another thing entirely to give those names the opportunity to do something truly irreverent and subversive with their material. Sam Elliot provides what may be the funniest moment of his career, so perfectly is his typecast personae juxtaposed against the script he’s reading. I had to look up the credits to make sure that what I was hearing was actually his voice and not an impersonator. 50 Cent likewise offers a performance that shows a level of self-awareness and sense of humor I wouldn’t have associated with the man in a scene that includes him teaming up with Parappa the Rapper.
It’s also brilliant to see that none of the love of 80’s toys that led to the show’s creation in the first place has been lost. We have what will likely be the greatest GI Joe sketch Robot Chicken will ever produce, popping up in episode one. Along with skewerings of Thundercats, Sectaurs, Lego and M.A.S.K., we also see some inspired spoofing of girl-brands like Polly Pocket, the Care Bears and She-Ra. There are also several segments hearkening back to the early days of the show that use original action figures as opposed to the specially-produced hyper-articulated models that have become pervasive over the last few seasons. The raw charm and nostalgia of these figures and their limited range of movement makes for good fun.
Not necessarily good clean fun, mind you. Season Six may also be the filthiest season yet, and I cannot urge you enough to seek it out in its unedited, uncensored format so that you can enjoy all the raunchy fun. If you’ve ever wanted to see a Care Bear masturbate or listen to Justin Bieber sing “Fuck Christmas” (and who hasn’t?) then this is a golden moment of home video for you. While profanity is not necessarily an earmark of quality humor in and of itself, it is put to good and frequent use here. There’s so much profanity at times that I wonder how the show must feel when broadcast bleeped and blurred. It’s good to know that with the Blu-Ray and DVD release we can view it as it was meant to be seen. I think it’s also a sign that the writers and producers of the show feel less constraint to merely create for a television audience, recognizing that home video is the end product.
I also have to say that the Blu-Ray looks phenomenal. This isn’t a show that I would ever have thought could look so good in high definition. It’s a testament to the production values involved, and even a quick peek at the “Making of Season Six” featurette will clue you in to just how much time, effort and energy goes into producing even the briefest segments. There is a depth-of-field in hi-def that I never experienced watching the show televised. Yes, I understand that I’m gushing about the technical presentation of a program that involves action figures fucking each other and shitting and pissing on things, but dammit people this is excellent work! When Captain Kirk, experiencing a violent case of Space Herpes, spews a dozen richly colored streams of blood, pus and semen into a urinal in the Enterprise’s men’s room you see every fully realized jet and arc in crisp detail!
If I have a complaint about this set, it’s that the Robot Chicken DC Comics Special is not included as a part of Season Six. While it’s been available as a stand-alone release for a few weeks now it would have been nice to have it collected here, and since it was used as a means of kicking off the Season Six broadcast I admit that I assumed it would be a part of the set. That said, there is no lack of content here as you’ll see detailed below.
All 20 episodes are presented with commentary tracks, featuring multiple cast and crew members on each. The commentary is loose and fun, you get a strong sense of the camaraderie that must prevail in the studio and offices. It’s less about the technique and ideas behind each segment and more about anecdotes, in-jokes and good-natured ribbing.
The Making of Robot Chicken Season 6
This is a behind-the-scenes look at the production of the season. Those who have picked up previous seasons will be familiar with the format, though this is a bit more polished and fun than prior iterations. The content feels a more guided and substantial, as do the other Season Six featurettes.
They Came to Play
A look at the many many guest stars who pop in for Season Six, this is mostly video footage of the sound booth and candid footage of the various stars. Everybody looks like they are genuinely having a good time, even Sam Elliot, though you only encounter him as a disembodied voice off-camera.
Our First Ladies
Focusing on Rachel Bloom and Jessica Gao, the first female members of the writing team, this segment discusses the unique voice the two bring to the show. They also discuss how this took the show into even raunchier territory, as Gao clearly explains she “has the biggest dick of them all.” Refreshing to have them here, as Robot Chicken can feel painfully focused on the post-adolescent male and Gao and Bloom are able to put that into perspective with wit, panache and an equal measure of filth.
Kirkman on Kirkman
Robert Kirkman, writer and creator of The Walking Dead comic, guest-spots in an episode as himself. This featurette discusses how that came about and what his experience was like on-set.
Sound booth outtakes, featuring line flubs from the guest stars.
My First Time
Various guest stars discuss this being their inaugural appearance on Robot Chicken.
The Dirt on Seth and Matt
Seth Green and Matt Seinrech, as creators of Robot Chicken, are roasted a bit by their fellow cast and crew. It’s a segment that will be a lot of fun for fans and was certainly fun for their co-workers.
The Inside Joke
One of the season’s most inexplicable sketches is explained here.
The Wilson Identity: From People to Puppets
A quick segment showing how a read-through of a scene with crew stan
ding in for the characters can help the animators get a grasp on the action that is about to take place.
The Benefits of Robot Chicken
Can being a part of the Robot Chicken team and name-dropping the show with the ladies get you laid? Find out in this featurette!
Who the F*** is Zeb featurette
Zeb Wells is a writer/director for the show and one of the hardest working members of the staff. Why does everybody hate him? How did starring in a semi-erotic Mighty Thor-themed home video (available on YouTube) lead him to becoming a writer for Marvel Comics? Answers herein.
Post-Apocalyptic Future of Holidays
This was one of the more impressive long-form sketches of the season, it looks simply incredible, and this behind-the-scenes bit gives you the scoop on how it was produced.
Deleted Channel Flips/Deleted Scenes/Deleted Animatics
Channel flips are the seconds-long clips padding out the longer sketches, there are dozens of deleted flips here.
Five deleted scenes and 37 deleted animatics are presented with bumpers from the crew explaining why they got cut and some of the backstory behind the selection process.
The quality and watchability of all these deleted bits are quite high. They all have full voice coverage and a rough animatic fleshing out the scene. Unlike traditional animatics for a fully animated show, these are more fully realized and thus much easier to follow. Given that the voice work is so good, this is altogether the equivalent of getting 2 to 3 bonus episodes.
Robot Chicken’s version of “Pop-Up Video,” you can choose to watch 4 episodes that feature picture-in-picture explanations activated by pressing enter when the chicken icon appears on-screen. A good parallel to the commentaries, this provides you with a better technical take on how things went down.
Season Six special guests included 50 Cent, Elizabeth Banks, Sarah Chalke, Kat Dennings, Sam Elliott, Ben Foster, Whoopi Goldberg, Lucas Grabeel, Megan Hilty, Gillian Jacobs, Zachary Levi, Rhea Perlman, J.B. Smoove, Liev Schreiber, Jon Stewart, Patrick Stewart, Stanley Tucci, Olivia Wilde, and Alex Winter.
Robot Chicken Season 6 is available on Blu-ray and DVD October 8, 2013.
At some point in the future he will likely appear on one of those shows that details how a person's addiction to purchasing and consuming media has ruined their life. Until then, his obsessions include sci-fi, horror and cartoons.
He can be found tweeting acerbically at @GentlemanSin.